Here’s How Many Bombs the US Military Dropped in 2016 – and Where They Went
Policy + Politics

Here’s How Many Bombs the US Military Dropped in 2016 – and Where They Went

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

For a nation that isn’t officially at war against another nation, the United States dropped an awful lot of bombs on a pretty large number of countries last year, according to research by Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and research associate Jennifer Wilson.

According to their calculations, based on data released by the Pentagon as well as information collected by think tanks and news organizations, the U.S. dropped some 26,171 bombs across all its weapons platforms, on targets in seven different countries.

Related: Trump Plays War Games on Twitter, and Americans Are Getting Worried

The biggest recipients were Syria (12,192) and Iraq (12,095), where the U.S. is participating in the effort to destroy the terror group ISIS, which still controls parts of both countries.

Next on the list was Afghanistan where, despite having pulled out the vast majority of combat troops years ago, the U.S. saw the need to drop 1,337 bombs. The only other country in triple digits was Libya, which was hit with 496.

Smaller targets included Yemen (34), Somalia (14) and Pakistan (3). The total number of bombs dropped was up 3,027 over the previous year, they found.

Related: The VA Doesn’t Need to Be Privatized, and Our Vets Know It

Writing on his blog, Zenko admits, “This estimate is undoubtedly low, considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and a single ‘strike,’ according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions.”

Zenko added, “As President Obama enters the final weeks of his presidency, there will be ample assessments of his foreign military approach, which has focused on reducing U.S. ground combat troops (with the notable exception of the Afghanistan surge), supporting local security partners, and authorizing the expansive use of air power. Whether this strategy ‘works’—i.e. reduces the threat posed by extremists operating from those countries and improves overall security and governance on the ground—is highly contested. Yet, for better or worse, these are the central [tenets] of the Obama doctrine.”